Just before Christmas the Local Fibre Companies (LFCs) contracted to the Crown to roll out UFB to 30% of NZ, including major centres such as Christchurch and Hamilton, released their joint discussion paper detailing their approach to unbundled fibre design.
First things first, I am going to stop referring to unbundled fibre and just start calling it PONFAS given that is what the carriers have settled on. PONFAS stands for PON fibre access service, and basically means layer 1 unbundled fibre over a GPON network.
The four LFCs share the same view on the following:
- the most logical approach is to use the existing secondary fibre that has already been rolled into each end user premises as the designated unbundled access.
- Installation and selection of splitter type in the FFP (fibre flexibility points, sometimes also called splitter cabinets) will be the job of the fibre company
- The existing ONT will remain the property of the fibre company and the carrier will need to supply their own ONT
- Installation of ISP ONTs and other devices is something the carriers are open to discussing (which makes sense given it would be a new non-regulated revenue stream)
- A PONFAS service is defined as running from the exchange to the ITP (carrier’s ONT inside the premises) and between those two points, all elements are managed by the carrier.
It therefore looks like we have industry consensus on the design of the PONFAS service, although a couple of tricky questions look to be parked in the too hard basket for now, those being:
- What happens when both fibres are in use? The LFCs have only said, “LFCs are only required to provide two fibres to an end user premises. LFCs will review this matter if it arises and on a case by case basis.”
- Typical room in each FFP allows for another 4-6 splitters, so future demand may require a rethink.
- Transitioning from one unbundled fibre service to another. There is unlikely to be an option to run a new service alongside the existing service (ideal when looking to avoid downtime) so churns will be the order of the day. From the document, “The LFCs are not obligated to provide a second PONFAS service at an end user premises. There will be a process to transfer PONFAS connections between Access Seekers. This will be supported by PONFAS connection SLAs.”
The next key revelation will be that of the price points being set for the service elements.
Pricing is due to be released in late 2019, likely around September.